Civil War rations were no picnic

Print Article

  • Photos: BETHANY BLITZ/Press 1st Lt. reenactor Joseph Taylor, left, and Sgt. Maj. reenactor Ben Benninghoff talk to Judy Waring about the kinds of food Civil War soldiers typically ate. The men are part of the 1st Michigan Small Artillery Reenactors that hosted the Taste of Civil War at the Coeur d’Alene Library on Sunday.

  • 1

    Parched corn, corn bread, bacon and hushpuppies line the table at the Taste of Civil War hosted by the 1st Michigan Small Artillery Reenactors at the Coeur d’Alene Public Library on Sunday.

  • 2

    BETHANY BLITZ/Press Taste of Civil War at the Coeur d’Alene Library on Sunday, hosted by the 1st Michigan Small Artillery Reenactors, had some Civil War-era items on display, such as this tall hat soldiers used to carry food.

  • Photos: BETHANY BLITZ/Press 1st Lt. reenactor Joseph Taylor, left, and Sgt. Maj. reenactor Ben Benninghoff talk to Judy Waring about the kinds of food Civil War soldiers typically ate. The men are part of the 1st Michigan Small Artillery Reenactors that hosted the Taste of Civil War at the Coeur d’Alene Library on Sunday.

  • 1

    Parched corn, corn bread, bacon and hushpuppies line the table at the Taste of Civil War hosted by the 1st Michigan Small Artillery Reenactors at the Coeur d’Alene Public Library on Sunday.

  • 2

    BETHANY BLITZ/Press Taste of Civil War at the Coeur d’Alene Library on Sunday, hosted by the 1st Michigan Small Artillery Reenactors, had some Civil War-era items on display, such as this tall hat soldiers used to carry food.

By BETHANY BLITZ

Staff Writer

For decades, Judy Waring and her husband have been reading old tales of wars and the West and have imagined the hard lifestyle that came with the territory.

Sunday, they got a taste of what that life might be like.

The 1st Michigan Small Artillery Reenactors, a Civil War reenactment group with the Washington Civil War Association, hosted the Taste of Civil War at the Coeur d’Alene Public Library. Reenactors in traditional garb greeted guests and guided them through the buffet line of typical 19th century foods that Civil War soldiers survived on.

“It’s not that good,” Waring said as she bit into a piece of hardtack, a type of cracker so hard it seemed like it should be stale. “But if I were out there, I’m sure it would be [tasty].”

Mike Dolan, the first sergeant reenactor of the group, said the goal wasn’t for people to come try delicious foods, rather get a sense of what Civil War soldiers had to eat.

He said canned foods, jellies, molasses and sugar often helped make the starch and corn based foods more palatable, but toward the end of the war, such items were harder to come by.

“Their diet was so horrible back then, you wouldn’t want to eat it today,” he said. “They fed soldiers anything that would keep.”

Hardtack, parched corn, baked beans, cornbread, bacon and hushpuppies lined the table for people to try. Other Civil War-era items were laid out on tables for guests to read about.

Soldiers often chose to wear taller hats, which were also used to carry food. The larger the hat, the more food a soldier could carry.

Soldiers sometimes received care packages from their families, but the goods would take about three months to get to them. So soldiers were often scraping mold off the cheeses and baked goods sent from their mothers and wives.

Travis Combs, a retired Marine, said he attended the event because he’s interested in joining the group. He said he’s been really interested in the ways of the military men who came before him.

“I’m not very interested in the fighting; I’ve seen enough of that,” he said. “I’m more interested in the everyday kind of things.”

The reenacting group wore their traditional garb — one woman said she was wearing “totally authentic Civil War underwear.” Group members answered any questions people had and were excited to share what life was like in the mid 1800’s.

First Sgt. Dolan said he wanted people to learn about that period in U.S. history.

“I hope people understand that times were tough but people were resilient,” he said.

Print Article

Read More Local News

Civil forfeiture reform legislation passes Idaho House

March 24, 2017 at 3:35 pm | Coeur d'Alene Press From the office of Rep. Ilana Rubel, D-Boise: BOISE: In a unanimous vote today in the Idaho House of Representatives, an amended version of House Bill 202 sailed through 63-0. The legislation, co...

Comments

Read More

Watch: Paul Ryan press conference to begin soon on failed health care bill

March 24, 2017 at 12:54 pm | House GOP abruptly pulls troubled health care bill WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican leaders have abruptly pulled their troubled health care overhaul bill off the House floor, short of votes. ...

Comments

Read More

House passes 28 bills, kills one, breaks for lunch

March 24, 2017 at 11:50 am | After passing 28 bills and killing one – where yesterday the House only got to three bills all day – the House has taken a lunch recess, and will be back on the floor at 1:30 p.m. It mana...

Comments

Read More

Free rides may have left

March 24, 2017 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press By BRIAN WALKER Staff Writer COEUR d'ALENE — Citylink rides are proposed to go from free to having a fee. A new $1.50 fare has been proposed for the public bus system's urban fixed routes and $3...

Comments

Read More

X